In vitro culture of dissociated retinal neurons is an important model for investigating retinal synaptic regeneration (RSR) and exploring potentials in artificial retina. Here, retinal precursor cells were cultured in a microfluidic chip with multiple arrays of microchannels in order to reconstruct the retinal neuronal synapse. The cultured retinal cells were physically connected through microchannels. Activation of electric signal transduction by the cells through the microchannels was demonstrated by administration of glycinergic factors. In addition, an image-based analytical method was used to quantify the synaptic connections and to assess the kinetics of synaptic regeneration. The rate of RSR decreased significantly below 100 μ4M of inhibitor glycine and then approached to a relatively constant level at higher concentrations. Furthermore, RSR was enhanced by chemical stimulation with potassium chloride. Collectively, the microfluidic synaptic regeneration chip provides a novel tool for high-throughput investigation of RSR at the cellular level and may be useful in quality control of retinal precursor cell transplantation.
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